Preview by Erin Ellis
Turn-based, strategy mayhem is coming to a network near you. Wargaming.net's Massive Assault is building a multiplayer network for its acclaimed, futuristic hex game, and we were granted access to the beta in order to provide you with a sneak peek.
The retail version of Massive Assault provided a good number of single-player scenarios and campaigns in addition to LAN and IP multiplayer options. It was a solid, streamlined hex-based strategy game that featured unusual attention to presentation for a game of its genre. A limited political system offered an additional strategic facet to the gameplay.
The network version of Massive Assault offers a forum for strategy nuts to stretch their skills to the limit against numerous, human opponents from around the world. True to most online networks, there is a skill ladder. Ranks vary from Conscript all the way up to Marshall. Stats, wins and loses are tracked, and you'll be given an overall rank on the network from day one.
Since Massive Assault is more of a ponderous, large-scale, turn-based experience, you'll be able to engage in numerous matches at the same time. Various time limits, from 1 to 14 days, can be set on turns, and the interface provides a nice menu for keeping track of the status of each of your games. In short, you could easily get your money's worth out of this title.
The maps utilized will be familiar to those who have already played the retail version. They are taken from previous, World War campaigns, but there is an indication that additional maps will periodically be made available for download.
Set in a politically tumultuous future, The Phantom League and Free Nations Union battle across planets of varying climates and topographies. Terrain plays a very significant part in your strategy. Massive Assault’s 3D graphics do a nice job of conveying the lush, frigid and desert environments you encounter, and the scalable camera helps you spot those pesky enemies hiding in the trees.
Both factions are, barring models and animations, exactly the same from a strategic point of view, so your choice of one or the other will be purely an aesthetic decision. Once battle is joined, you’ll find yourself immersed in a pretty, yet tried-and-true, turn-based hex game. Clog up those front lines with cheap cannon fodder while you place your long range, powerful units in the back.
Offering a bit of a twist on the classic turn-based strategy game, Massive Assault contains a limited but effective political system that allows you to ‘disclose’ your allied provinces at a time of your choosing. The timing of your disclosures can be the key to victory, or a faster route to defeat.
Even if you’re new to Massive Assault, the game is very forgiving. It will walk you through each phase of your turn, and it will even alert you if you have forgotten to give any units orders. That said, I cannot promise that the strategy fanatics online will be all that forgiving. If you are new, you may want to spend a little time against the AI first.
All in all, Wargaming.net is throwing a big, lovely lollipop out there for all of you little strategy rascals. If you loved the retail version, but you have become bored with matches against the AI or those periodic IP matches with your married friend who can only play for about one hour a week, keep your eyes peeled for the release of Massive Assault Network. You will never play against the AI again.